For the first time in the history of the Paducah Police Department, a female officer is training today as a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.
Officer Chelsee Breakfield is the first woman to make the specialized team. She and Officer Cody Santel (pictured below) completed the rigorous testing procedures last month and were chosen as the team’s newest Operators. They will attend a two-week Basic SWAT course in July.
Breakfield joined the Paducah Police Department in October 2014; Santel in January 2015.
The Paducah Police Department’s SWAT Team was organized in 1980 to respond to and help resolve critical incidents that involve a threat to public safety. These events require an expertise that normally would exceed the capabilities of traditional law enforcement first responders or investigative units.
To make the team, officers must successfully complete various tests, including a physical fitness test, firearms proficiency test and an observation and memory test. They also are exposed to scenarios that evaluate areas of leadership, tactics, knowledge and how they react in stressful situations.
While there is no statistic for how many female SWAT officers there currently are, women make up about 12 percent of officers nationwide, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2015). In agencies the size of the Paducah Police Department, women make up eight percent of the departments nationwide. The PPD is consistent with this statistic, with 8.6 percent of its officers being female.